The New Zealand Parliament is currently considering new tobacco taxation legislation, as signalled in the 2012 budget. This provides an opportunity for the Government to clarify what tobacco tax is primarily for. There appears to have been some ambiguity in recent decades in New Zealand about the actual priority of tobacco taxation—revenue collection or protecting health.
We suggest that protecting health should clearly be the priority purpose of tobacco taxation and there is no ethical justification for making revenue a priority. That is, it is clearly unethical in our view for a government to use an addictive drug to raise general revenue from a (relatively deprived) segment of the population.
Citation: Thomson, G., & Wilson, N. (2012). What is tobacco tax for—revenue or health? (Letter). New Zealand Medical Journal, 125 (1362).